Overview of CASA rule making principles and obligations

We work in cooperation with the aviation community to maintain and enhance aviation safety.

Guiding Principles

See our guiding principles for the development and application of aviation safety regulations in our:

Our guiding principles extend to the application and administration of our regulations. We make sure that regulatory changes are:

  • justified on the basis of safety risk
  • do not impose unnecessary costs
  • do not hinder participation in aviation and its capacity for growth.

Our principles are also upheld in our standards development activities.

Australian legislation

Our primary function is to conduct the safety regulation of:

  • civil air operations in Australia
  • the operation of Australian aircraft overseas.

We produce standards for the safety of civil air operations in Australia as per Section 9 of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 (CAA).

Under paragraph 9(2)(b) of the CAA, CASA must promote full and effective consultation and communication with all interested parties on aviation safety issues.

We also have safety related functions of:

Civil Aviation Act

The CAA does not generally contain detailed rules governing aviation safety, other than in relation to AOC’s. Such matters are within the regulations and other legislative instruments.

The CAA outlines our responsibilities and scope of authority, including the following examples.

Section 3A - the CAA promotes and enhances the safety of civil aviation. This includes an emphasis on the prevention of aviation accidents and incidents.

Section 9A - we must:

  • regard the safety of air navigation as the most important consideration when carrying out our functions
  • carry out our functions in a manner that protects the environment. This includes from the effects of, and associated with, the operation and use of aircraft.
  • in developing and promulgating aviation safety standards:
    • (a) consider the economic and cost impact on individuals, businesses and the community of the standards and
    • (b) take into account the differing risks associated with different industry sectors.

Section 11A - we must exercise our powers and perform our functions in a manner consistent with the Australian Airspace Policy Statement.

Section 16 - in the performance of our functions and the exercise of our powers, we must consult with:

  • government
  • commercial bodies and organisations
  • industrial bodies and organisations
  • consumer bodies and organisations
  • other relevant bodies and organisations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Section 23 - we must regulate the carriage of dangerous goods.

Section 98 - gives the Governor-General the power to make regulations. This is limited by the scope of the power provided by the CAA.

Legislation Act 2003

Appropriate consultation must be undertaken before the rule maker can make any legislative instrument: see section 17 of the Legislation Act 2003.

We decide what consultation is necessary based on the proposed legislative instrument's:

  • nature
  • complexity
  • impact.

Airspace Act 2007

The Airspace Act 2007 provides the regulations may make provision for and in relation to conferring functions and powers on CASA that are in connection with the administration and regulation of Australian‑administered airspace.

For Australian-administered airspace, we must foster:

  • efficient and safe use of the airspace
  • equal access for all users.

Under the Act, we must also conduct regular reviews of the existing:

  • classifications of volumes of Australian-administered airspace
  • services and facilities provided by the providers of air navigation services in relation to particular volumes of Australian-administered airspace.

The Act also:

  • states that the Minister may request advice from us on a matter related to the Australian Airspace Policy Statement
  • details our powers to make determinations regulating Australian-administered airspace.

International agreements and commitments

Convention on International Civil Aviation

We must perform our functions in a manner consistent with Australia's obligations under international agreements relating to the safety of air navigation: see section 11 of the CAA.

Australia is a signatory to a number of international conventions. The principal convention for us is the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention).

Australia ratified the Chicago Convention on 1 March 1947. This means we must comply with the standards and recommended practices (SARPs) set out in annexes to the Chicago Convention.

Under Article 37 of the Chicago Convention, Australia has undertaken to collaborate with the other contracting states:

...to secure the highest practicable degree of uniformity in regulations, standards, procedures and organisation in relation to aircraft, personnel, airways and auxiliary service...

The Chicago Convention requires that a State must notify the ICAO when it:

  • finds it impracticable to comply in all respects with international standards or procedures
  • otherwise takes a decision to differ from international standards.

ICAO publishes any differences in an electronic supplement to the Annexes to the Chicago Convention. Australia also publishes all differences in the Aeronautical Information Publication.

We are responsible for:

  • assessing ICAO Annex changes
  • proposing compliant rules and regulations through the standards development process.

Harmonisation with foreign rules

We harmonise our regulatory requirements with the standards and practices of the major aviation countries.

In developing the Australian rules for aviation safety, we review and assess comparable rules of the:

  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • Joint Aviation Authorities – European Aviation Safety Agency
  • New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority
  • Transport Canada.

Where it is appropriate, we make changes to reflect the Australian operating environment.

If our legislation incorporates other standards, the identification of Australian differences with the SARPs must take into account the differences in these standards. This includes international, foreign or industry standards.

We review current compliance and differences, including for incorporated foreign legislation. This is undertaken in conjunction with the confirmation (or otherwise) of:

  • all differences registered with ICAO
  • the updating of the ICAO Compliance Checklists.

The process reveals any:

  • changes in adopted foreign legislation and standards
  • differences filed by the foreign authority in relation to this legislation
  • the subsequent registration or removal of differences to coincide with the foreign legislation/standard.

ICAO panel membership

The Executive Manager, Standards Division, assesses any of our nominations for membership on an ICAO Panel or working group.

Once we receive confirmation of the nomination, we seek agreement within the Australia ICAO Tripartite group for the appointment.

Before attending ICAO Panel or working group meetings, members must meet with Standards Division management to:

  • discuss the work plan and emerging issues
  • reach an agreement on our position.

If the Australian representation involves other agencies, there will be a joint CASA–agency meeting to determine the Australian position.

After the meeting:

  • a debrief takes place with Standards Division management and relevant external agencies
  • we develop or amend our internal work plan.
Last updated:
22 Sep 2021
Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//rules/changing-rules/overview-casa-rule-making-principles-and-obligations
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